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Memorial Weekend in Maine (Dead River)

Saturday-Sunday May 24-25, 2008
Kayak: Frank Wells, Dan Beideck
C1: Dave Stanley (Sat)
Inflatable: Dave Stanley & Ann Smith (Sun)
Organizer: Dave Stanley
Difficulty: intermediate WW
Level: medium
Author: Dan Beideck


American Whitewater describes the Dead as follows, "There is simply too many features and rapids to describe." Amen!

The release Saturday was 2400 cfs. It was a bit overcast and the black flies were out in force, but we were soon on the river and happy. Early in the day we were greeted by a bald eagle that seemed to traveling along with us for a stretch. I kept trying to get the camera out to snap a photo, but my best opportunities were either when the camera was away or I was running something that needed my attention. So, no photo to show for it. On we paddled for a total of 16 miles. There are breaks between the rapids, which sometimes are quite lengthy themselves. The in-between stuff was always moving water and it never seemed a burden to get to the next rapid. In fact, I'm not sure there's ever a time until the very end when there's not a rapid within sight. It's mile after mile after mile of river runnin' bliss!

Once off the water, the black flies were back to welcome us. Those of us that forgot our netting, spent $3 for some headgear to keep them at bay. A 6-pack of "black fly beer" also helped us cope. We discovered the Kennebec was (re)releasing from 4-9 pm as we headed back to camp. It was decided to postpone dinner a bit and hike out to take a look at magic falls. Quite nice, but it would have to wait for another trip. The Dead was releasing 5500 cfs on Sunday and everyone was very eager to go again with the additional water.

Ann joined us for Sunday's release and she and Dave 'shredded the Dead'. Frank and I spent another day in our kayaks. The extra water added to the excitement and moved things along at a brisker pace. Dave described the difference as follows. "5500 cfs was a nice intermediate, medium level, a very busy, continuous low 4, have to be able to 'scramble to avoid the pourovers' and the 2400 cfs was technical, not pushy low 3." All I know is that today was even more fun than Saturday!

Dave and Frank headed home after the paddle Sunday. Ann and I found an Inn overlooking the Kennebec just downstream of where the Dead joins it. We enjoyed the sun, view and a peaceful dinner before returning to camp. The next day we did a short hike to see an impressive 80 foot waterfall on the Moxie, a nearby creek run.

We took the scenic route home and seemed to encounter a moose every few miles for one stretch. All in all, a great trip! If you're looking for playboating or creeking, you'll probably find the Dead lacking. But if you like pure river running with lots and lots of rapids, the Dead is a real gem!

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